South Africa ranked among unsafest countries in the world – as citizens live in fear

 ·20 Nov 2020

Global polling group, Gallup, has published the results of its latest survey probing perceptions of crime and policing among 144 countries.

The group conducted over 1,000 face-to-face and telephonic interviews in each country – 152,000 responses – asking people about levels of crime in their area, how safe they felt walking the streets, and how much confidence they have in their local police force.

The Gallup Law and Order Index is a composite score based on people’s reported confidence in their local police, their feelings of personal safety, and the incidence of theft and assault or mugging in the past year.

The higher the score, the higher the proportion of the population that reports feeling secure.

South Africa dropped in the latest index, with an index score of 57, and is now ranked the fifth most dangerous country out of the 144 countries covered.

It only placed above Liberia, Venezuela, Gabon, and Afghanistan.

According to Gallup, nearly seven in 10 people globally said that they feel safe walking alone at night, and have confidence in their local police (69%).

About one in eight (12%) said they had property stolen from them or another household member in the past year, and 6% said they were assaulted or mugged. These numbers remained largely unchanged from last year’s poll.

In contrast to the global findings however, South Africans live in fear, and have little trust in local authorities. For example, only 29% of South Africans feel safe walking alone.

While the Gallup index is based on the perceptions of a country’s citizens around their own safety and security, the findings line up with several other sources painting South Africa as one of the least safe places in the world.

The 2020 Global Peace Index again flagged the country’s high murder and crime rate for bringing down its safety and security rating, while the violent cities ranking by Peace, Justice and Security once again featured local cities as being some of the most violent.

Crime Stats

South Africa’s crime problems were again highlighted in the most recent statistics, presented by the South African Police Service (SAPS).

While the stats reflected an overall drop in crime, this was due to the country being under lockdown during the review period. As lockdown has eased, crime levels have slowly returned to normal.

Worryingly, despite lower numbers in murder, the country still recorded over 5,000 murders in just three months. Statistically, this means that 55 people are being murdered in South Africa a day.

In the annual crime stats (covering April 2019 to March 2020), murders increased 1.4% to 21,325 reported cases. This works out to 58 people murdered in the country each day, at a rate of 35.8 people per 100,000 population.

The murder rate in South Africa has been compared to literal warzones, where conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan range between 38 and 200 deaths per 100,000 population.

Read: South Africa’s latest crime stats – everything you need to know

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